The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau settled with Afni, Inc., last week to address violations in providing information to consumer reporting agencies. The consent order requires Afni to take certain steps to prevent future violations and imposes a $500,000 civil money penalty.
Afni is a non-bank Illinois-based debt collector that specializes in collecting debt on behalf of telecommunications companies and furnishes information to consumer reporting agencies about consumers’ credit.
Bloomington-based Afni furnished information to CRAs that it knew or had reasonable cause to believe was inaccurate. From at least March 2016 through July 2017, Afni’s automated reporting system incorrectly formatted reports used to send information to CRAs. This led to reporting actual payment amounts as zero dollars on approximately 165,600 accounts, even though those consumers had made payments, and current balances and amounts past due in amounts other than zero dollars on approximately 72,000 accounts, even though those consumers’ accounts were settled in full. Afni also failed to report appropriate dates of first delinquency on certain accounts, according to the consent order.
The company didn’t conduct reasonable investigations of disputes made by consumers both to Afni and to CRAs about furnished information and failed to conduct investigations of disputes made to Afni in a timely manner, according to the complaint. It also failed to send required notices to consumers about the results of such investigations and failed to establish, implement, and update its policies and procedures regarding its furnishing of consumer information to CRAs, the bureau said.
These actions violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act and its implementing rule, Regulation V, the bureau said, and by engaging in these violations of the FCRA and Regulation V, Afni also violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act.
As part of the consent order, Afni must conduct monthly reviews of account information to assess the accuracy and integrity of information it furnishes. It must also conduct monthly reviews of consumer disputes and responses to assess whether its handling of consumer disputes complies with the FCRA, Regulation V, and its own policies and procedures.
The consent order also requires Afni to retain an independent consultant to conduct a review of Afni’s activities, policies, and procedures relating to furnishing information and credit reporting to ensure that its current policies, practices, and procedures regarding furnishing of consumer information to CRAs comply with the FCRA and Reg V.